One year after Donald J. Trump’s election, which party’s troubles strike you as looking more like a war movie directed by Daffy Duck? For a while, the GOP’s devolution into a Pennsylvania Avenue food fight was getting all the attention, and rightly so. All happy political parties are alike, but every unhappy one is unhappy in its own way. After a generation of marching in lockstep, the Republicans’ version was more of a deviation from tradition.
The latest chapter got underway sometime during the 17th century, otherwise known as September. That was when Roy Moore won Alabama’s GOP primary over the grudgingly Trump-endorsed Establishment favorite, Luther Strange. Then October brought denunciations of Trumpism from former Senate loyalist Bob Corker, former Senate “Who he?” Jeff Flake and former POTUS George W. Bush.
Next came ousted White House insider Steve Bannon’s threat to provoke a GOP “civil war” by scraping up as many pro-Trump extremists as possible to run against Republican incumbents in the 2018 primaries. Bannon also compared Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Julius Caesar before wondering “Who’s going to be Brutus?” At this brackish moment in American political life, however, invoking assassination as a remedy doesn’t make the Beltway punditocracy so much as break wind in dismay anymore.
But meanwhile, the Democrats—what of the Democrats? Their status as the country’s preeminent effed-up political organization was suddenly and bewilderingly at risk. By the end of last month, this had plainly aroused their competitive instincts in a way that dull twaddle like winning elections does not—or had not until yesterday's big small wins in civic races across the nation.
The big bang was onetime DNC chair Donna Brazile’s new book Hacks: The Inside Story of The Break-ins And Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in The White House. At least in the advance excerpts, its major revelation was that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had demanded—and gotten—considerable influence over the DNC’s primary-season decision-making in exchange for shoveling big bucks from Hillary’s fat war chest into the DNC’s depleted one. The financial arrangement has been known for some time, but the quid pro quo’s specifics became national news.